Tag Archives: influence

This redesign would cut bias on Airbnb

In a study involving nearly 9,000 Airbnb users, researchers propose that implementing features that emphasize a user’s reputation can offset harmful social bias.

The “share economy,” in which people rent goods and services, including their homes and automobiles, has numerous benefits for people trying to make extra money. One downside, however, is the prospect of people’s biases about race, gender, or other factors affecting their decisions about whom to do business with.

The new study that analyzes Airbnb users and data suggests measures that enhance a user’s reputation, like stars or reviews, can counteract these harmful prejudices. The results, the Stanford University researchers say, indicate sites that use reputational tools create a fairer and more diverse online marketplace.

The share economy, also referred to as “collaborative consumption” and “peer-to-peer lending,” has allowed everyday citizens to turn into entrepreneurs, taking advantage of an industry that’s projected to grow to $335 billion by 2025, according to the Brookings Institution.

Share economy transactions are distinctive because, unlike most other e-commerce dealings, they have an intimate feeling to them. Think about when you purchase a pair of shoes online either directly from a retailer or from a third-party site: there’s rarely, if ever, a human element to the transaction.

But when you reserve an apartment on Airbnb, there’s a personal feel—you’re staying at someone’s home. Because of that element, you become attentive to the personal characteristics (ex. gender, age, etc.) of the home’s owner or the guest, says Bruno Abrahao, a visiting assistant professor at Stanford’s Institute for Research in the Social Sciences and the study’s lead author. That attentiveness to details peripheral to the transaction can lead to bias.

People like us

The researchers in this study focused on a certain type of bias called homophily, a natural tendency to develop trustful relationships with people similar to themselves, and how best to counteract it. The study is part of a broader research project analyzing trust and technology at Stanford.

The researchers recruited nearly 9,000 Airbnb users for their experiment, conducted on an online platform external to Airbnb’s. The participants were shown mock profiles of other Airbnb users with varying demographic and reputation information.

Algorithms don’t yet spare us from bias

The researchers created two experimental groups. Group 1 included profiles with some demographic similarities to the study participant (ex. a single male in his 20s viewing a profile of a user with comparable age, gender, and marital status). Group 2 included profiles with completely different personal traits from the participant, but with better reputations—conveyed by impressive star ratings and number of reviews – than those in Group 1. (Profiles from Group 1 were included in Group 2 for comparison).

To test for evidence of bias, participants played a behavioral game where they were asked to invest credits in the various profiles. The amount of credits a person invested in each profile served as a measure of trust.

In the first group, participants invested greatly in the similar profiles. The more similar the profiles were, the more the participant trusted them, succumbing to bias.

In the second group, however, the researchers noticed a shift. Participants invested significantly more in users whose characteristics were completely different than their own, but who had better reputations. Those profiles’ reputation mechanisms counteracted people’s penchant for favoring users similar to themselves.

Maximize trust

Knowing the robust effects reputation features had in the experiment, the researchers then analyzed 1 million actual interactions between hosts and guests on the Airbnb platform. They found that hosts with better reputations were attracting more demographically diverse guests, as their data predicted should happen.

Ride-share drivers discriminate against black riders

This finding offers evidence that reputation systems used by Airbnb and other sites on the sharing economy platform may allow users, like the study’s participants, “to extend trust to those who exhibited a high degree of dissimilarity in the social space,” the authors write.

Not only can offsetting these social biases be beneficial for users seeking services, but also for marginalized hosts offering them, Abrahao says.

“The fundamental question we wanted to answer is whether technology can be used to influence people’s perception of trust,” Abrahao says. “These platforms can engineer tools that have great influence in how people perceive each other and can make markets fairer, especially to users from underrepresented minorities.”

Additional coauthors are from Stanford and Airbnb. The National Science Foundation supported the work, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Stanford University

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general design discussion • The Human Aura

Since ancient times we have seen images and paintings of diverse spiritual leaders crossways various traditions however one thing that is common amongst all of them is the halo that environs their head which is recognized as the Aura- energy arena. It not only surrounds just the head however also extends all round your body. This aura signifies your physical, emotional mental, as well as divine energies.

The aura is frequently seen a mix of fine colored frequencies wherever each color defines its own distinct nature plus characteristics. The shaking of this aura is actually fine and delicate so we need very fine tools to detect it otherwise may be we can use our inborn instinctive mechanism plus our latent psychic perspective to train ourselves not merely to see the aura however also to interpret the diverse colours and forms in the aura which can disclose us a lot of unspoken information

What Is the Human Aura?

The human aura is an area of subtle, glowing radiation adjacent us and spreading outer from our physical form. Auras are connected to the electromagnetic area of the body plus serve as a visual amount of our mental, expressive, physical plus spiritual states.

Everything that we do otherwise think touches the aura so it is typically in a state of flux, always changing, founded on our mental meanderings plus physical health. The aura is moreover affected by the energies of the atmosphere, the force fields of the world and the radio frequencies that interpenetrate all methods of a matter. The aura is an electric signature of who we are.

The Color of the Human Aura

The colors of the aura might glow and discharge with joy and energy as we keep a state of holiness in God. Or the colors might become dull, constructed and stultified once we are gloomy, while we allow ourselves to be unhappy when we criticize or see life as less than lovely.

Appreciation strengthens the aura as the heart originates a pink plus golden sun-like happiness. And at other times while we put ourselves down otherwise enter into the criticism of others, the size and happiness of our auras lessen. Holding imageries and ideas of ourselves as well as others as less than entire also impinges on our aptitude to send out auric areas of light energy that bless plus uplift.

Thoughts, Feelings, Diet as well as the Human Aura

Diet has an influence on the aura. But more prominently, what we take in with our eyes and ears and whatever we think affects the power and pattern of the aura. While we put our courtesy upon God and all that this period represents for us, the rotating of our chakras quickens and a resonance with the potentials of God starts to cleanse the aura plus expand it.

The Human Aura as well as the Chakras

The chakras are similar generating stations inside us. Alike to the mitochondria, those organelle control houses which reside inside each human cell, these places of light can be an excessive self-regenerating emphasis.

We can imagine our chakras every day. And as we emphasis on a precise chakra, we see its petals rotating and then quickening in perfect balance and equilibrium. We see the entire radiance of these seven main generating stations increasing and blessing ourselves as well as all those who drive within our range of influence.

The excellence of our prayers is reliant on the excellence of our heart, our awareness…and, so, our aura. If we wish to be of superior service and efficacy, if we wish to perform alchemical feats for the good of manhood, we must first go inside, self-assess as well as get in balance. We must appear to our chakras and wash them every day in the light of God. In order, their acceleration will make a rise and expansion in an awareness that is transformational.

The entirety of who we are is transmission to the world over the aura that discharges out from us, even though maximum persons do not see this aurora borealis-similar light show around themselves and others. And if we wish to upsurge the beauty, intensity as well as a size of our aura, it will definitely occur as we emphasize more and more on all that is optimistic, kind, considerate, forgiving, and just as well as loving.
spirit Secret

Mexican social clubs in L.A. gave back to hometowns

Starting in the 1960s, Mexican migrants in Los Angeles raised funds for and invested in the towns from which they’d come, building a system of community investment outside the government of either country.

“This work counters the portrayal of Mexicans as always desirous of coming to the United States and using its welfare coffers…”

In 1962, a group of migrants wanted to raise money to help the elderly in their mutual hometown of Guadalupe Victoria, a small rancho in north central Mexico. They formed Club Social Guadalupe Victoria in LA.

Over the next two decades, they provided funds to build a clinic, fence a school, set up electric power lines, provide drinkable water, and restore a church.

In the Journal of American History, Ana Raquel Minian, assistant professor of history  at Stanford University, examines how groups like Club Social Guadalupe Victoria developed and managed to transform entire towns in Mexico between the 1960s and 1980s.

Today, there are hundreds of Mexican clubs and associations in the United States and they have attained significant political power in jurisdictions throughout Mexico.

“Immigrants are often imagined to lose touch with their communities,” says Minian, who is also an affiliated faculty member at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. “But they maintained strong connections with their hometowns and built a vibrant community life across borders.”

Fundraising and philanthropy

Mexican migrants and US-born Mexicans have formed mutual aid societies since the 19th century. But it wasn’t until the 1960s, an era of high activism throughout the United States, that migrants, primarily in East Los Angeles, began forming groups that prioritized aiding their hometowns.

The Club Social Guadalupe Victoria began raising funds through small parties and picnics, collecting between $200 and $1,000 per event, according to Minian’s research.

Report aims to debunk anti-immigration myths

Migrants from other Mexican communities heard about the club and formed their own groups. By the late 1960s, at least 20 clubs began meeting in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights neighborhood, Minian says. Hundreds of people attended each fundraising party. Club representatives in Mexico distributed the raised funds to the needy.

The clubs fostered an inclusive environment, mixing people from different socioeconomic backgrounds and blurring the lines between documented and undocumented workers.

“Migrants’ capacity to organize themselves and to send resources to Mexico allowed them to build a new and robust movement of transnational welfare activism,” Minian wrote. “Through their activities, clubs took on some of the responsibilities of the Mexican government, becoming a kind of extraterritorial welfare state.”

Power and influence

The migrants’ efforts met challenges from Mexican officials at all levels of government. Local municipalities, in some cases, worked with clubs to fund certain projects, but the state and federal government largely ignored the migrants and corrupt officials demanded bribes from them for transporting aid across borders.

Over time, however, the social clubs managed to gain much influence and respect among Mexican residents, which allowed them to exert pressure on the Mexican government.

“By the mid-1980s, migrants’ investments in Mexico were impossible to overlook,” Minian says.

Mexican politicians began to take advantage of the clubs’ influence. For example, in 1986, Genaro Borrego Estrada became governor of Zacatecas state and sought support from migrant clubs in Los Angeles in order to increase his popularity. He then developed a program by which the state government would match every dollar that migrants sent to Zacatecas to better their communities.

Today, the Mexican government gives three dollars for every dollar migrants donate and influences how the funds are invested.

Exploring the development of these clubs is difficult, Minian says, because neither migrants nor the communities they helped kept all their historical records. But Minian managed to locate archives stored in closets in La Casa del Mexicano, a cultural center in Boyle Heights, where club organizers originally met.

40 years of data don’t link crime and immigration

Minian spent several months traveling by bus through several small towns in Zacatecas before she tracked down Gregorio Castillas, a cofounder of the Club Social Guadalupe Victoria. She conducted an oral history interview with him as well as with other migrants who had been a part of the club world.

“This work counters the portrayal of Mexicans as always desirous of coming to the United States and using its welfare coffers,” Minian says.

“In fact, migrants refrained from using state resources. Instead, they created their own welfare organizations and sent money back home so that other Mexicans did not have to migrate. They ultimately hoped to be able to return and lead economically secure lives in Mexico,” she explains.

Source: Stanford University

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Cognition tends to peak later if you have more degrees

A new study suggests that higher levels of education are tied to later ages of peak cognitive functioning.

The study, which appears in the journal PLOS ONE, examined relationships between educational attainment, cognitive performance, and learning in order to quantify the cumulative effect of attending school.

age of peak cognitive performance chart
This chart shows the age at which cognitive performance peaks align with the average age of completion of educational degrees by participants in a study of education and cognition. Colored points show the median age of maximum performance while gray, dotted lines represent the age range of peak performance, and colored squares show the median age of typical graduation for each education level. (Credit: PLOS ONE via UC Berkeley)

Its findings suggest that higher levels of education may help stave off age-related cognitive decline. In addition, the team found that education didn’t have a large impact on novel learning, or learning something new at various points in time.

Conventional wisdom has long accepted that higher education is likely to boost incomes and helps prepare individuals for a workplace with often-changing skill sets. Yet fewer than 40 percent of adults in the United States are expected to graduate from college in their lifetimes, and the percentage declines for more advanced degrees.

Until now, research has been inconclusive about the cognitive impacts of higher education and whether the quantity of schooling can influence the acquisition and maintenance of cognitive skills over time.

“…schooling doesn’t merely impart knowledge—it also provides the opportunity to sharpen core cognitive skills…”

Bunge and her team say higher levels of education are strong predictors of better cognitive performance across the 15- to 60-year-old age range of their study participants, and appear to boost performance more in areas such as reasoning than in terms of processing speed.

The study’s findings are consistent with prior evidence that the brain adapts in response to challenges, a phenomenon called “experience-dependent brain plasticity.” Based on the principles of plasticity, the authors predicted improvements in cognitive skills that are repeatedly taxed in demanding, cognitively engaging coursework.

Differences in performance were small for test subjects with a bachelor’s degree compared to those with a high school diploma, and moderate for those with doctorates compared to those with only some high school education.

Why some people don’t take out loans for college

The researchers note that people from lower educational backgrounds learned novel tasks nearly as well as those from higher ones.

“The fact that the cognitive tests were not similar to what is learned in school is a strength of the study: It speaks to the idea that schooling doesn’t merely impart knowledge—it also provides the opportunity to sharpen core cognitive skills,” says Bunge.

The researchers analyzed anonymized data collected from around 196,000 Lumosity subscribers in the United States, Canada, and Australia who came from a range of educational attainment and diverse backgrounds. Participants complete eight behavioral assessments of executive functioning and reasoning that are unrelated to educational curricula as part of their subscription.

The research team also looked closely at a subset of nearly 70,000 subscribers who finished Lumosity’s behavioral assessments a second time after about 100 days of additional cognitive training. Testing before and after the assessments measured cognitive performance in areas such as working memory, thinking quickly, responding flexibly to task goals, and both verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

“Given the size and wide age range of our sample, it was possible to test whether these age effects are influenced by education—and, importantly, to determine how the cognitive effects of educational attainment differ across the lifespan, as one’s experience with formal education recedes into the past and is supplanted by other life experiences,” the team writes.

Bunge says that collaborating with Lumosity was an opportunity to analyze data from a large number of participants—an anonymized dataset that would have taken a lifetime to collect in a laboratory.

In America, less education often means more chronic pain

Additional researchers contributing to the paper are from the University of California, Berkeley and Lumos Lab.

Source: UC Berkeley

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This App Tracks Political Ads To See Who Is Targeting Your Vote–And Why


Who Targets Me is a U.K.-based project that monitors your Facebook feed to see which parties and candidates are trying to influence your vote. Their goal is to increase transparency in election advertising, and to keep a lasting record to hold politicians accountable for their advertisements.

These worms make decisions by eating like crazy

The C. elegans roundworm sees by eating, sucking in big gulps of bacteria to learn about its surrounding environment.

For a new study, scientists used a mathematical model to explain these eating bursts. What they discovered clarifies animals’ feeding behavior and the science of decision-making.

“It’s an interesting model for understanding the processes that underlie how animals decide where and when to eat,” says lead author Monika Scholz, an international student research fellow with the University of Chicago’s biophysical sciences program who is now at Princeton University. “For these worms, it’s all about the balance between speed and accuracy.”

Roundworms live in big colonies in soil, such as compost piles, searching for bacteria to eat. Because they lack eyes, roundworms taste as they travel, but every gulp comes with a cost: The bite could contain delicious bacteria, or toxins, or nothing, in which case they’ve spent energy with no outcome.

The straightforward prediction would say the worms should eat a lot when food it’s available, and stop when there is no food. But the ability to collect data on worm feeding over longer periods—an hour or more rather than just a minute or two—allowed researchers to notice an odd burst feeding pattern that didn’t always correlate to the amount of food available. In particular, the worms’ feeding intensified when the amount of food quickly fluctuated.

‘Assembly line’ measures worm cells with a poke

When the data are laid out with a mathematical model that analyzes decisions, the pattern makes more sense, Scholz says.

“What we see is it’s an evidence accumulation task. Whenever the worm needs more information, it keeps taking bites. But if I keep changing the conditions while you’re still deciding, the information is worthless.

“Most organisms live on the boundary of just enough to survive, so there is high evolutionary pressure to be good at these decisions.”

“So the worm keeps trying to accumulate more and more evidence to make its decision, and you see this erratic pattern.”

Understanding these systems is helpful because all animals, including humans, make similar decisions about when and where to eat.

“Most organisms live on the boundary of just enough to survive, so there is high evolutionary pressure to be good at these decisions. Systems for regulating food intake have evolved under situations where food is scarce,” Scholz says.

“Currently much of our understanding of decision-making is investigated at two levels: At a purely theoretical level that is typically very removed from actual data, and psychology/animal behavior studies in complex mammals, which are complicated due to a lot of other factors that influence decision-making.

“So what you have is two very distant levels of understanding. What research like this can do—basic research in simple organisms—is bridge that gap.”

The National Science Foundation and Howard Hughes Medical Institute funded the work that appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: University of Chicago

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World's biggest underground bike parking center opens in Utrecht

When it reaches full capacity at the end of 2018, the Stationsplein Bicycle Parking facility will ...

Anyone visiting the Netherlands will immediately notice how crazy the locals are for two-wheeled transport. Bikes are everywhere, which can make finding somewhere to park up a bit of a problem. Cyclists in Utrecht started using a three-storey parking garage under the train station last week, ahead of the official opening on August 21. It already boasts thousands of spaces, but when complete, it will be the world’s largest parking facility for bikes.

Continue Reading World’s biggest underground bike parking center opens in Utrecht

Category: Bicycles


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How goldfish brew their own booze to survive harsh winters

European researchers have discovered how a goldfish, and its cousin the crucian carp, create their own ...

If you’ve ever felt a little warmer after a few drinks, it turns out some animals use that as an actual survival strategy – although we wouldn’t recommend trying it yourself. To make it through winter in the freezing, oxygen-starved waters of northern Europe, crucian carp (and its more domesticated cousin) goldfish produce their own alcohol internally, removing dangerous chemicals from their bodies and getting nicely sauced along the way. Now, researchers have worked out how they do it.

Continue Reading How goldfish brew their own booze to survive harsh winters

Category: Biology


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Elon Musk says his startup’s AI is the first to beat e-sports’ best gamers

It’s not clear if artificial intelligence will take away all our jobs, but according to Elon Musk, it is going to take away our e-sports supremacy.

This afternoon, Musk tweeted that a bot built by his non-profit, OpenAI, beat several of the world’s best players at the video game, Dota 2. 

In an accompanying blog post, OpenAI wrote that its bot had been undefeated over the last few days in Dota 1v1, a “complex game with hidden information [in which] agents must learn to plan, attack, trick, and deceive their opponents. The correlation between player skill and actions-per-minute is not strong, and in fact, our AI’s actions-per-minute are comparable to that of an average human player.”

What’s particularly impressive about the feat is that winning in Dota tasks players with building intuition about what their opponents will do, and building a corresponding game plan.  “Our bot has learned—entirely via self-play—to predict where other players will move, to improvise in response to unfamiliar situations, and how to influence the other player’s allied units to help it succeed.”

The next step for OpenAI is to build a team of Dota bots that can both compete, and partner with, human players.

With AIs having won at chess and Go, and now an e-sport, perhaps another next step is for Musk to reframe his argument with Mark Zuckerberg–over whether or not AI is dangerous to us–toward whether it can win all the games.

You can rewatch the OpenAI bot’s beat-down of its Dota competition here.


design employment • Re: Recent Grad In Need of Advice

It’s been a while, but I though I would chime in…:)

I totally understand your struggles as well. It took me over 8 months in 2002 to find my first gig. And even that gig was a contracting position. There has been a lot of great advice up here that I will not repeat. I ended up doing over a year of short contract positions, before landing my first full time gig.

There are a few things that I always look for when hiring new talent, with seasoned and entry level.

First is do you have the fundamental skills? Can you sketch, think through a problem, convey an idea, etc… This sounds obvious, but what I am finding more and more is that a lot of new grads don’t understand the difference between drawing and sketching. I am happy to hire someone that may not have “hot” sketching skills because they can throw down an idea and build upon it. This is super important in our field.

Second, do you have a point of view. What makes you tick? What will you bring to my team? These are 3 questions I always ask in some way shape or form in an interview. Just because you are an entry level candidate you still should have a point of view on design, you ambitions, and why you want to work for my company. Whether that is you want to influence and change peoples lives, design shoes to enhance the athlete, or elevate a brand experience through structural packaging, these are beginnings of a point of view. Take the time to sit down, craft it, and live by it. It should be reflected in your portfolio and emails you are sending to employees.

Last and kind of related to the above, is why should you be hired. Just because you want to break into ID is not a reason for me to hire you. You have to look at the company/firm you are reaching out to, understand their needs and direct you communication to those needs. What is it that you have that they cannot live without? What is it that they are doing that is super interesting to you? Why do you want to work there?

As others have mentioned, put your work up and we can give you some feedback to help you get to where you want to be.

Hope this helps.